Kabul is Falling

By Smitha Vishwanath

Kabul. Courtesy: Creative Commons
Kabul is falling

Kabul is falling,
while the rest of us are watching
with knitted brows and furrowed foreheads
as many as hundreds 

of thousands lie dead 
and the Kabul River runs red  
with slaughtered dreams of the Afghans 
and trampled actions of the Americans. 

Rock by rock, the hilly country crumbles
at the hands of the bearded rebels. 
Into a heap of stones collapse the long-fatigued walls
and streets turn blue as district-by-district falls.
Gunshots sound like warning bells--
Death knells
for the men in pakol hats, who confounded stare 

of what is to become of them
amidst the bloody mayhem. 
Wide-eyed their rosy-cheeked children
build castles in the dirt; and their women

in chadarees --
can no longer mask their worries
as the turbaned vultures --
circle the city, waiting, to tear open uncured sutures 

 'Kabul must fend for itself,' the men in uniform say,
 and turn their backs and walk away.
 Promises made by the top brass bite the dust
 on the rugged tarmac of hopes; ‘Ah! The Pashtuns are cursed.’
 Onlookers say, ‘Those men-- tall, broad shouldered and strong, 
 And women-- creamy white, chiselled; what did they do wrong?’
 Their children’s faces
 in coveted places--

 on magazine covers, win the best photograph of the year
 for their glassy-grey eyes that glare with fear
 which we call, ‘grit’
 as on the couch we sit

 flipping the glossy pages,
 ignoring their pain and rage.
 Let’s not bother.
 Let’s all look hither

 and nod our heads
 and look on with furrowed foreheads
 and express regret for the misfortune
 Of those born in a land where mulberries and apricots are grown.

 Let’s thank our stars
 for our nation free of wars 
 while the children of Hades turn the ‘graveyard of empires’ red --
 A deep red like the juice of the ‘fruit of the dead’

 planted around the sands
 on which the Shrine of Hazrat Ali stands
 and let’s watch it happen--
 Kabul falling-- Falling, fallen.

Pakol: Soft, round-topped hat made of wool
Chadarees: A shawl

Smitha Vishwanath is a banker turned writer. A management professional, she embarked on the writing journey in 2016, with her blog, poems and articles have been published in various anthologies. In July 2018, she co-authored a book of poetry: Roads – A Journey with Verses. 



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